One of the most fun parts of Scott Pilgrim is finding out how deeply ingrained you are in the target audience by trying to catch every reference, allusion and shout-out in the film. Some are obvious, some less so – here, we’ve compiled a few from almost every medium referenced in the film. Are you geek enough to have spotted them all?
In the movies, like the comics, Scott wears a round ‘X’ insignia on his arm, but unlike the comics, he’s never pressed to explain its relevance. Even before they’ve read the first Scott Pilgrim book, hardened geeks will know that, obviously, Scott wears this logo because he went to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The patch does still get its moment in the movie spotlight, though, when Scott tears it from his arm while trying to escape the shadow of the ‘X’es around him.
Bonus X-Men reference: When the fourth Evil Ex, Roxy, teleports herself around with her (half-)ninja powers, the special effect is uncannily similar to Nightcrawler’s from X-Men 2.
2. A link to Link (several, in fact)
There are few gaming protagonists as popular as the 8/16-bit stalwarts, Mario and Sonic, but undoubtedly, Link, the green-clad hero of the Legend Of Zelda games, is up there. The Scott Pilgrim movie has barely started when the initial narration segues into the opening musical cue from 1992 SNES RPG, A Link To The Past. Moments later, Scott answers the door to Knives, eliciting a pair of Zelda sound effects, and shortly after that, the sketchy visuals of the opening credits provide our first glimpse of Gideon’s inverted Tri-force-referencing GGG logo. If there was any doubt who this movie was aimed at, these references eliminated it very early on.
Bonus Zelda references: From its mention as Neil’s favourite game, to the Dark Link-inspired look of NegaScott, there are too many Zelda references to count without watching the whole movie looking just for them. You could probably do a top 10 of Zelda references alone.
3. Final Fantasy II (or IV)
Nothing exposes an embarrassing attempt to look cool than when something attempts a reference, then immediately fouls up, making it clear it has no idea what it’s talking about and is just attempting to cynically trade off the currency of cool. By contrast, Scott Pilgrim is meticulous in its details. When Scott claims to be playing the bass line from Final Fantasy II, he’s actually playing the bass line from Final Fantasy II (which, as we all know, is actually Final Fantasy IV in Japan.)
4. Culture Clash
The name of the band fronted by Natalie ‘Envy’ Adams (played by Brie Larson in the film) is, as we all know, The Clash at Demonhead. This is a two-for-one reference. The name itself comes wholly from the 1990 NES beat-‘em-up, The Clash At Demonhead, but also forms a pun based on the name of seminal British punk band, The Clash.
Bonus band name references: All of the bands named in the Scott Pilgrim world refer to games. Envy once sang in one of Scott’s earlier bands, Kid Chameleon, alongside Stephen Stills and Steph Nordegraf, and Scott’s first band (which he played in with Kim Pine) was called Sonic And Knuckles.
5. Just deserts
Fancy another combo-reference? How about the lonely desert landscape Scott visits when he’s killed? It manages to recall the ending of Final Fantasy VIII, and Oliver Stone’s Doors biopic The Doors, via Wayne’s World 2 (in which Wayne often found himself plunged into a very similar-looking landscape to converse with Jim Morrison and “a weird naked Indian”).
Is it referencing both, one, or simply going back to the first principals of a desert vision quest? We may never know. Unless Wright reveals it on one of the DVD commentaries.
6. Launchpad McQuack saves the day!
Although the film’s soundtrack calls the song We are Sex Bob-omb, the first song the band plays in the film is given as Launchpad McQuack, which is – of course – a reference to the Disney character of the same name, who served initially as Scrooge McDuck’s personal pilot and bodyguard, and later as the sidekick to the original terror that flaps in the night, Darkwing Duck.
Of course, comic readers will know that Launchpad McQuack is one of the few Sex Bob-omb songs that Bryan Lee O’Malley included chords and lyrics for in the books – although unfortunately, the movie version, composed by Beck, bears no noticeable resemblance to it.
7. More like Gothic LOLita
Although Kim Pine’s role in the film was sidelined substantially from the comics, she did provide a huge amount of comic relief in the film – no more so than when, for the climactic battle, she dresses in the Japanese Gothic Lolita fashion, which involves wearing dark-coloured, Victorian-inspired clothing, emphasising beauty and cuteness over sex appeal. Her deadpan delivery contrasts with the elaborate outfit, as well as the stereotype of typically perky and upbeat Japanese teens. Is it explained where her outfit’s inspiration comes from? Is it hell. You’re a geek, you should know this stuff already.
8. Don’t need no more!
When Chris Evans was announced as Lucas Lee in Scott Pilgrim, most people immediately remembered him for his… performance as Johnny ‘Human Torch’ Storm, from the dire Fantastic Four films (although these days, he’s best known as the future Captain America, proving that in the Marvel Universe, even box-office death isn’t the end). When Scott finally defeats Lee, his T-shirt switches to the Fantastic Four logo in the following scene. Although as comic readers will know, his Fantastic Four logo isn’t the one worn by Reed, Sue, Johnny or Ben, but the ‘Four-and-a-half’ logo, which was worn by Franklin Richards, the son of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman, when he was a toddler.
Bonus T-Shirt reference: Scott’s Plumtree t-shirt references the band that originally wrote the song Scott Pilgrim, from which O’Malley took the character’s name. It brings about a circularity which reminds us that this whole cultural phenomenon isn’t just celebrating a love of geeky references – it’s entirely founded on one.
9. Take a Wii
Could it be that the infamous Pee-bar urination scene in Scott Pilgrim is actually a reference to 1987 Amstrad/Spectrum-based git simulator, How To Be A Complete Bastard? After all, it was almost certainly the first game to include a health bar specifically for your character’s urine supply (called a Weeeometer). To be honest, it’s more than likely just a coincidence – but it’s such an obscure game, we felt like mentioning it anyway to prove that we’re hardcore nerds. After all, isn’t that the point of references?
10. Comedy about nothing
Eager to prove that he was capable of truly adapting Scott Pilgrim to a new medium, rather than dutifully transferring page to screen with no idea of what made the material work in its original medium, Wright added a few references of his own, none more inspired than the point where the movie briefly turns into an episode of Seinfeld, complete with the correct musical cues, an audience laugh track and – of course – fixed camera direction reminiscent of all audience-based sitcoms. Mr Wright, you’re a genius!
Bonus film references: Fans of the comics probably caught all of the videogames, T-shirts and comics references through sheer familiarity with the source material – but how about other stuff Wright added, like the Flash Gordon sound effects, or The Big Lebowski “This is a league game” reference?
Admittedly, there’s a lot we haven’t covered, but if we tried to include everything it could go on and on. With that in mind, why not impress us by pointing out something truly obscure that we missed? Forget all the obvious stuff. Bonus points if you can name the origin of Lucas Lee’s ‘Incoming text’ sound!
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World arrives on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK on 27th December
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